Ask Brian: My son has dyslexia. Will he qualify for lower CAO points?
Reduced points are available for students with learning challenges – but be sure prepare your application well
Do not sign off on any impact statement from your son’s school unless it clearly states the supports he has received in secondary education. Photograph: iStock
Question: My son has dyslexia and has a psychologist’s report which he received on entry to secondary school. Is this sufficient to secure him qualification for lower points under the CAO’s system for students with learning challenges?
Answer: The Disability Access Route to Education (Dare) is a third-level alternative admissions scheme for school-leavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second level education.
Dare offers reduced points places to school-leavers who, as a result of having a disability, have experienced additional educational challenges in second-level education.
Dyslexia is one of the recognised disabilities. There’s no age limit required for a qualified psyscholgist’s report, but you will also need two literacy or two numeracy attainment scores at or below the 10th percentile (standard score of 81 or below).
These attainment scores can be from school-based assessment testing or attainment tests carried out by a psychologist. They must have been carried out after February 1st, 2016. Furthermore, your son must submit an education impact statement carried out by his school.
Numerous applicants who contacted me through this column last summer failed to secure Dare status because the school’s educational impact statement was vague and failed to specify the specific consequences of learning difficulties on school life.
Do not sign off on any impact statement from your son’s school unless it clearly states the supports he has received in secondary education, along with whether his dyslexia has impacted on his attendance and disrupted his day-to-day experience of schooling or overall wellbeing.
Specifically, the impact statement must indicate how his dyslexia has impacted on his learning or exam results both in school and in his Junior Cert. In the case of dyslexia, it is a requirement that the school clearly states that it has severely impacted on his literacy or numeracy skills.
I would also advise your son to apply to the CAO and apply to be considered under Dare. This involves filling out a separate “supplementary information form” online. The online section of this must be completed by March 1st, 2018. The educational impact statement must be completed by his school, along with evidence of disability as outlined above, and sent by post to the CAO offices in Galway by April 1st, 2018.
As for reduced points, it is important to bear in mind that this is not guaranteed depending on the number of Dare applicants to a course. Each of the 20 colleges who participate in the scheme allocate a specific number of reduced points places on their various programmes.
If, for example, a specific course offers four Dare places and there are four qualified applicants at the end of the assessment process, then all four will secure points reductions of between 10-15 per cent. If more than four apply and reach the required points, other Dare applicants do not, unfortunately, qualify for reduced points.
Note: Dare information clinics will be held nationwide on Saturday, January 20th. For details on all venues, visit: www.accesscollege.ie